Chess regulator bans trans women from competitive play for two years: ‘These are dark days’

Professional chess tournament

Trans women are to be banned from competitive chess tournaments for up to two years.

The International Chess Federation (FIDE) announced a list of council meeting decisions on Monday (14 August), following the second Fide Council Meeting of the year.

Among the decisions was one to update FIDE’s policy on chess player participation for transgender participants.

The newly approved policy decrees that trans women have “no right” to participate in official FIDE events for women until further decisions are made.

“Such decisions should be based on further analysis and shall be taken by the FIDE council at the earliest possible time, but no longer than within [a two-year] period,” the policy read.

Players who have recently come out as transgender will be placed in an “open section” for now.

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The chess regulator offered no reasons for its decision but added that the rules applied to all competitions under its associated organisations.

Trans men are reportedly set to be stripped of any titles if they were won pre-transition, unless, according to the regulator: “The person changes the gender back to a woman and can prove the ownership of the respective FIDE ID that holds the title.”

Regulations had also been imposed in applying for a new FIDE ID number (FIN), which is required to participate in competitive chess tournaments.

FINs recognising a new gender identity are now almost impossible to acquire unless approved by a national rating officer.

“If the national rating officer rejects to approve the gender change, the player may appeal to FIDE [qualifications commission]. FIDE QC can also cancel the decision of the national rating officer to change the gender of the player if there is no sufficient evidence of such change.”

Professional player, Yosha Iglesias, who is trans, criticised the new policy in a tweet on Tuesday (15 August).

“Can someone tell me what qualifies as an official FIDE event?” Iglesias asked. “Will I be allowed to play the French Championship in three days? The European Club Cup in September?”

Users responded to the question with utter dismay that FIDE had made the decision with seemingly no justification, with one writing: “These are dark days.”

The FIDE Ethics and Disciplinary Code 2022 states in section 6.6 that it does not tolerate discrimination in chess on the basis of “race, gender, ethnic origin, colour, culture, religion, political opinion, marital status, sexual orientation or any unfair or other irrelevant factor, except as permitted by law.”